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Research Councils

Volume 165: debated on Friday 19 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will respond to the advice he has received from the Advisory Board for the Research Councils on the future structure of the research council system; and if he will make a statement.

I have today written to Sir David Phillips, chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, accepting the recommendation made to me by the board that it should be reconstituted this spring.The text of my letter is as follows:

"Dear Sir David
Future structure of the research council system
Thank you for your letter of 15 November conveying the Board's advice about the future structure of the Research Council system.
The case which you put forward for reconstitution of the ABRC—as a smaller body with a more explicit remit to improve co-ordination and joint working among the Research Councils—is strong and convincing. The Government therefore intends to implement this recommendation with effect from 1 April. The terms of reference for the new ABRC will be those proposed in the annex to your advice. I am very pleased that you have accepted my invitation to become the first chairman of the new Board, and I hope to be able to announce its full membership within a few weeks.
I and my colleagues are considering the Board's subsequent advice about improving co-ordination between the Agricultural and Food Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council. I shall let you know our conclusions as soon as possible.
I shall, naturally, be informing Parliament about the Government's decision on the reconstitution of the ABRC and, given the wide interest in the scientific community, I am arranging for this letter and the Board's advice to be published."

I am arranging for copies of this letter and of the board's advice to be placed in the Library.